IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

IWD 2020 interview: Kordia's NZ CISO Hilary Walton

By Sara Barker
Sun 8 Mar 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand is a small country with a powerful tech backbone, but chances are you won’t come across too many people in the country who hold the title of CISO – and even fewer who are female CISOs.

Meet Kordia’s CISO Hilary Walton, who stepped up to the role in late 2019. We spoke to her about her career, Kordia, and diversity in technology ahead of International Women’s Day. 

Walton started her career as a psychologist at the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which formed the foundation for her career moves into leadership and culture. The city of London is what marked her foray into security – notably the 2012 Olympic Games where she was manager in Information Security and Security Culture. She also worked with MI5, in which she managed a security project.

The Olympics marked what she calls her first technology role, as she was working with a  technical information security team. She learned on the job and dug her heels deep into gaining more qualifications.

“It was a crazy role that had deadlines and more security in place in the leadup to the Olympics night and opening ceremony. It was also a major culture change because you’re doing things differently to what you did before and trying to keep the legacy of the Games," she says.

She returned to New Zealand to spend time at Airways as an ICT leader in areas such as risk management and oversight and security. In 2019, she landed in her current role at Kordia.

Kordia provides a range of network, cloud and security products – including a unified security management service through its Security Operations Centre (SOC). The company also offers consultancy services and penetration testing via Aura Information Security, the cybersecurity business Kordia acquired in 2015.

“In security, you never get to a point where you say ‘hey, you’re secure’. It just doesn’t happen and it’s always a journey. Kordia is on board with that and there are passionate, intelligent people here - that makes it a real pleasure to work with Kordia.”

Kordia actively encourages women to step into tech careers through initiatives such as the Women in Tech scholarship at the University of Waikato, and a broader cybersecurity scholarship for all genders at Unitec called the Kordia and Unitec Cyber Excellence Scholarship.  

“Our CEO Scott Bartlett is very much about diversity and inclusion – that filters through the organisation. We’re still on a journey, but we are putting those connections in place. We’ve also recruited a female into our security operations this year at Kordia, and the last three hires in security roles at Aura have been women as well.”

“We need to have women in organisations and those types of roles so that other women can see that they belong as well. The diversity programme is working and we’re having the right conversations. It’s an ongoing process and we’re consciously making an effort in these areas.”

International Women’s Day is on Sunday the 8th of March. We asked how Walton’s experience has been as a woman in IT.

“It has been a mix of good and not so good – I’ve had many supportive male colleagues. Others have been less supportive in the way that they will try to catch you out and pick at your credibility or your confidence.”

“I think women – particularly in technology and security – tend to have a confidence gap. Some women feel like outsiders and need to make their way, while men going into the industry tend to feel like they belong. Women sometimes think that men might know more and speak more confidently, but women learn that just because someone is speaking confidently or using a few good words, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they know more. It’s an ongoing learning process, and I’m still learning too.”

Walton points out that women’s decisions to leave and re-enter the workforce, such as in the case of having children, are also important factors in a career path. She has three children, so she understands exactly what support mothers need. She says learning new skills and having children poses a few challenges but having people who believed in her abilities allowed her to navigate these challenges with ease.

For example, sometimes women will shy away from promotions if they’re having a family soon, but potentially that’s a mistake, says Walton. Good managers will understand and work together to help women return to work.

“When I was pregnant, I applied for a Future Directors programme. I did the programme throughout my pregnancy. Baby came and I continued on. They have a ‘baby in the boardroom’ policy so they said I could take a couple of months off and bring baby to the boardroom. My little girl came to a few board meetings.”

“Everything is possible and you can find a way through, so you shouldn’t necessarily take your foot off the pedal or stop thinking around your career. You can get joy from your job and joy from your family.”

It’s not just about what women could do differently – organisations should also make efforts to address their business culture, their environments, and support their leaders.

“We need to be as supportive as we can for people as they go through their careers. Allowing people to work flexibly becomes super important and if we empower people to work like that, then employees give you their heart and soul in terms of delivering their role and the organisation.”

When Walton came back from maternity leave, she worked three days per week for a start. As her baby grew, she could put more time back into the job. She says she was working at her own speed, rather than being forced to come back by a certain day and work five days a week. For organisations that allow for flexibility, it will pay off.

She says organisations should also try to measure their diversity and inclusion efforts because if there’s no good data, there aren’t many ways to track improvement and that they are making a difference.

"We also need to have more of these kinds of conversations," she says.

And she's right. While International Women's Day is a calendar celebration of women's achievements, diversity and inclusion efforts must have a long-term future to reflect our changing world.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Digital Transformation
Stax and Consegna partner to accelerate modernisation
According to a statement, the new alliance will help both companies expand their reach across the region and realise joint goals.
Story image
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
New Relic
How to tackle the great brain drain in the tech industry
Attracting and retaining tech talent in Australia and New Zealand is becoming increasingly challenging, with the 2022 Hays Salary Guide showing a startling 91% of employers facing a skills shortage.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
DigiCert acquires DNS Made Easy and affiliated brands
Greg Clark comments, says, "This combination enhances the security of certificate validation and enables the automation of future validations."
Story image
Canstar finds Flick Electric NZ’s favourite provider
Canstar’s annual research to find New Zealand’s favourite electricity provider reveals Flick Electric has come out on top.
Story image
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
Market growth
Salesforce unveils new offerings for consumer goods companies
Salesforce has announced new products for consumer goods companies to help brands navigate increasing market complexity more easily.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
F5 Networks
Telstra, F5 team up to bolster services and solutions
“This partnership demonstrates our ongoing investment into APAC as we continue delivering high value services and solutions to our partners and customers."
Story image
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
VMware wins Google Cloud partner award for infrastructure modernisation
The cloud computing and virtualisation company was recognised for its achievements as part of the Google Cloud ecosystem.
Story image
TO THE NEW unveils A/NZ Managed Services for Microsoft Azure
TO THE NEW has released Managed Services for Microsoft Azure to meet the growing demand in the A/NZ market and globally.
Story image
Cyclone selected as NZ MOE software licensing partner
Following a recent Request for Proposal (RFP), Christchurch-based company Cyclone Computer Company Ltd (Cyclone) has been selected as The Ministry of Education’s software licensing partner.
Story image
Forrester names Talend Leader in enterprise data fabric
Forrester has named Talend a leader among enterprise data fabric providers in the Forrester Wave: Enterprise Data Fabric, Q2 2022 report.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Contact Centre
Customer service agents don't want to return to contact centres
A new report has revealed that 85% of customer service agents want to work full-time at home and not return to contact centre offices.
Story image
Internet of Things
Global 5G subscriptions to top one billion by the end of 2022
Global 5G subscriptions are predicted to pass the one billion milestone by the end of 2022, according to a new report.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom puts electronics sector on notice over resale price maintenance
The Commerce Commission has concluded an investigation into allegations that television manufacturers were engaging in illegal resale price maintenance.
Story image
Microsoft expands APAC Enabler Mentorship Program
"Mentors are the key to success for every professional. A good mentor is a coach, a guide, as well as a vocal advocate."
Story image
N4L, Spark, Chorus partner for Hyperfibre school upgrade
Networks for Learning (N4L) has partnered with Spark and Chorus to upgrade Wellington College to Hyperfibre, fostering stronger outcomes for students and teachers.
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Sealord partners with Infor to improve sustainability
Sealord has chosen Infor as a strategic partner to implement an operational cloud-based platform that provides day-one functionality and sustainability gains.
Story image
Employers look to hire inexperienced coders due to skills shortage
"Even inexperienced workers without prior qualifications or experience had managed to pivot to new roles in coding as long as they are willing to upskill."
Story image
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Ready for anything with the PagerDuty Operations Cloud
In a world of digital everything, teams face increasing complexity. Ever-growing dependencies across systems and processes put customer and employee experience, not to mention revenue, at risk.
Story image
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.
Story image
Corpay partners with supply chain platform PracBiz Exchange
Corpay's new partnership with PracBiz’s allows more than 4000 B2B suppliers on the latter's platform to use Corpay's global payments services.
Story image
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Consumers want personalisation, but don't trust brands with their data
Customers expect personalisation during every brand interaction but they don't trust brands to keep their personal data secure and to use it responsibly. 
Story image
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Tricentis
Tricentis provides software testing automation, and software quality assurance products for enterprise software.